pop culture

MUSIC&pop culture&web07 Aug 2017 12:46 pm

In case you don’t know, I am “producing” a weekly podcast covering music. Don’t worry, I’m not talking or anything – the dynamic duo of Aaron and Denee’ handle that. I just give them things to talk about. In an effort to cross-promote (or something that sounds social media conscious), I’m posting the show notes here.

Ideally, you’ll read them here, listen to them there, and really enjoy both experiences. I’m starting this week because… that’s it. Just because. Click the link below to listen to the show and read the text below for my thoughts. Simple, right? Here we go.

Show Link
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about StudiaDNA

Album 1: Wildfires, by Stephen Christian (7/28/2017)
Stephen Christian fronted the modern rock band, Anberlin, until they disbanded in 2014. He also launched a solo side project, Anchor and Braille, with a slightly mellower sound. Now he steps out again, moving from Tooth and Nail (home of some of CCM’s more controversial artists) to BEC Records (home to some of CCM’s more commercial acts). WILDFIRES is a solo album that serves as a worship project of sorts as Christian follows the footsteps of Aaron Gillespie. One can’t help but wonder if this is simply a sales grab.
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general&pop culture&SPORTS25 Aug 2016 03:36 pm

Swimming is a sport of grace and mechanics. It’s won with speed, but that speed hinges on proper technique, specific body position, and controlled bursts of strength. When done properly, there aren’t many more events as spectacular to watch as eight swimmers, stride-for-stride, straining towards the wall simultaneously, each with the overwhelming desire to get there first.

Many age group swimmers (those typically under the age of 15) get frustrated by the nuances of each stroke and try to find “faster” ways to move through the water – and some succeed, but only for a time. Eventually, form triumphs and these swimmers learn what many before have already come to grips with: speed is a by-product of proper technique. Not only does following the guidelines of technique result in faster swims, deviating from said form could result in a disqualification.

Journalists have a lot in common with swimmers in this regard. Their techniques have been well explained over the years. Follow a hunch, look for evidence, research, find sources, verify, verify, verify. Unfortunately, many in the field today only care about speed. Headlines are primary. Details are secondary. Accuracy is a luxury. Shape the story before it’s a story. Why verify when you can vilify? And most unfortunate: there are no DQ’s in journalism.

Speed was certainly the key to the recent “Lochte Four” stories breaking from Rio last week. Initially, everyone was sympathetic towards Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz. It was a cut and dry emotional piece about the dangers of competing internationally – a close call for four of America’s Olympic swimmers.
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general&MUSIC&My5&pop culture&SPORTS&television25 Sep 2015 04:23 pm

My5 today is a random mix of things I’ve been meaning to write about… should be fun.

The Muppets are back and Miss Piggy has a late-night show. These are more “adult” muppets apparently and the broken relationship between Piggy and Kermit is at the “heart” of storylines. I’m okay with that, I guess. The move to a late-night show makes sense because there aren’t any variety shows on the air these days. In that sense, it’s a smart decision. It’s hard to say whether this will work or be funny in the long run because, for the pilot, all the funny moments were already in the trailers. What’s missing? Puns. The Muppets are supposed to be fraught with puns. Just saying.

bills helmetIncreased concern about concussions, but 2 plays in week one featured players getting stripped of their helmets. Ndamukong Suh tackled Redskins running back Alfred Morris and then kicked his helmet off of his head while Morris still lay on the field. No penalty. No fine. On the west coast, Adam Jones tackled Amari Cooper and proceeded to rip off Cooper’s helmet and slam Cooper’s head into the helmet. He was fined at least. Seems like mixed messages being sent by the league.
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My5&pop culture&television02 Sep 2015 05:11 pm

I have a bit of a toss-up today for “My5”. I have a couple things I’d like to write about and can’t decide which to actually write about. You’d think this is a good thing, but technically speaking, coming up with the topic isn’t usually my dilemma. It’s the actual writing part that hangs me up – so I’ve already won that battle. The two big topics I have in mind are Mr. Robot and RGIII. I’m going with Mr. Robot because the finale is tonight and that makes it more timely than RGIII which will likely drag on for the entire NFL season…

MRROBOTSo, Mr. Robot. Have you been watching this show? I wasn’t sure what to make of it initially, because I assumed it would be something like Halt and Catch Fire, which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t all that I had hoped. That’s for another time. Today it’s about Mr. Robot – a dark, psychological drama that discusses the underbelly of hacking, drugs, and corporate greed. The terms “dark” and “psychological” are understatements as the show’s production is gritty, the language is salty, and the writing is gutsy.

Your introduction to the protagonist (Elliott) places him in a coffee shop, awkwardly staring down the owner, who has been running a child pornography ring behind the cover of his business. To avoid exposure, “Ron” of Ron’s Coffee offers Elliott money to leave him alone. As the sounds of sirens nears the coffee shop, Elliott dons his hoodie and walks out stating that he doesn’t care about money. Elliott wants to make the world a better place and he’s certain that leveraging his hacking skills is the way to go about it.

Of course, it’s much more complicated than that and the remainder of the season unfolds a long con designed to utilize Elliot’s talents as part of an underground community known as “fsociety.” It’s not for everyone, but it is a fascinating character study and a rather accurate portrayal of digital security. Now, before I continue, there are spoilers ahead. Don’t click the “continue” link or stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers. I have some finale predictions and will try to limit spoilers, but need to include some for background.
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MUSIC&news&pop culture&television&web30 Jan 2014 04:31 pm

Okay. Enough dragging my feet. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a new format for this blog for a while. One that involves, you know, blogging once in a while. I know, it’s a crazy idea, but we’ll give it a shot, right?

So here’s how this might work. Each day, I’m going to try to talk about something that grabbed my attention in the news or pop culture (assuming there’s a difference anymore), something I’m listening to, reading, and/or watching, and something outside of categories that seems worth sharing or talking about. Then, I might sum it up and let you know what to expect next time. And, I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. This won’t replace the occasional book, music, movie or TV reviews, but will be passing mentions for the most part.

You can still expect reviews, commentary, and other features as time allows. I’m hoping that by forcing myself to write more often it will start a snowball effect. Let’s see how it shakes out.
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pop culture&SPORTS05 Sep 2013 04:49 pm

Hey, it’s football season! It’s a great time of year and I’ll start back into my weekly predictions and commentary – perhaps with fantasy advice – today, since the season officially opens with the Broncos and Ravens tonight.

I don’t have too much of note to discuss just yet as I’m really easing into this season. I didn’t even do any prep work for my fantasy teams this year. The first one, I left alone to auto-draft and the second, I almost forgot about the draft before participating in it last night. And I’m apparently projected to finish 6th in both leagues. That’s not likely, but it’s fun reading how poorly I drafted.

Anyway, I’ll just dive into this week’s picks and maybe toss in a comment or two.

Broncos over Ravens, 38-28.

Thursday Notes: This is a rematch from last year’s epic double-overtime playoff chess match. Peyton got tired, Flacco got lucky and the Ravens went on to the Super Bowl. This time, Peyton won’t get tired. And Flacco won’t get lucky.
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americanidol&MUSIC&pop culture&television16 May 2013 11:54 am

Okay, to be honest, I forgot this was on at least five times. Part of that is because I didn’t think Angie should’ve left last week (though I did pick her to finish 3rd at the beginning of the top 10). Part of it is because I haven’t been watching live. But most of it is because, every year by this point in the competition it really stops mattering. The contestants that make it to the final rounds look, sound, and talk nothing like they did when they started the show.


This week is it, though. The grand cage match. Kree vs. Candice. Three songs each. One winner will emerge. Then we can all focus on what really still matters when it comes to American Idol… who will be judging next season? Anyway, this is something we must go through first. The first song is picked by Simon Fuller. The second is their potential lead single (presumably ALSO picked by Simon Fuller). And the final song is their favorite from earlier in the season. Then, the votes, which will have absolutely nothing to do with the performances tonight. Off we go…

Kree opens the night with Angel, which makes me think of abused puppies. Not that I think Kree mistreats animals or anything. I just don’t like this song. She did a fine job with it, though. Great vocal tone. No judge’s commentary.
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americanidol&MUSIC&pop culture&television09 May 2013 02:43 pm

With three contestants left, we get a glimpse at who’s really “in it to win it” and we can really see the light at the end of this never-ending tunnel. Next week is the finale and in two weeks, we’ll start forgetting all of this year’s contenders. After all, The Voice is just ramping up with their elimination rounds. And there’s always a new squirrel to distract us. But for now, American Idol is the squirrel and we have three contestants left.

This week, the three finalists get a taste of how their recording sessions will go. They each sing three songs, and they didn’t get to choose any of them. The first round are songs picked by Jimmy Iovine, the second round songs are picked by the judges, and the Idol producers picked songs for the last round. Don’t expect any particular connection between artist and song this week. (And don’t scratch your head as to why Idol winners sell less each year). One more cynical aside: This is the week when the judges and producers totally tip their hands and show who they want to advance. Song choice is everything. Anyway, off we go…


Kree opens the show with Perfect, by P!nk. Because that’s a country, blues song that fits right in her wheelhouse and core audience. Except not at all, really. She seems spacey and almost lifeless as she performs and wanders around the stage. Good vocal. Not a good song choice. Keith says it reminded him that she’s a country girl. Nicki starts in with a British accent, which is never a good sign. She says her vocal was great, but it felt short and apparently Kree was too tall; she should wear flat boots instead of heels. Randy didn’t love that song for her. She can sing anything, but this fell flat and lacked pizzazz. Mariah says it’s hard to let someone else pick your songs for you and she’s sure Kree will be better later on tonight (translation: it wasn’t good, darling).
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americanidol&MUSIC&pop culture&television02 May 2013 12:16 pm

So, this week is a rerun. Sort of. With new songs. And best of all, Harry Connick, Jr. I’ve been lobbying for Harry to be a permanent judge for years now. I would love to see Randy, Neil Patrick Harris, Kristin Chenoweth, and Harry Connick Jr as the judges, but that would never happen. Anyway, on to today’s show. Two songs each – one from 2013 and one from a long time ago – and no duets, as far as I can tell.

Angie begins with Rihanna’s Diamonds from behind the piano. The spotlights look like harp strings behind her. I like this arrangement, but she’s totally biffed some of these big notes and it’s unfortunately fallen apart for her at the end. Keith loves a lot of songs, but he didn’t like the arrangement of that song. Nicki says she worked the body more than the heart and it was bland; she can do better. Randy agrees with Keith and the arrangement wasn’t great, but he likes her leather shorts. Mariah appreciated the risk of re-arranging the song, but agreed that it seemed she played up to the camera more than she should have.

Amber will apparently be humming and snapping to Just Give Me a Reason because she can’t remember the words. I’m not familiar with this song, but again, even if she was singing it flawlessly (she’s not), there is very little connection emotionally. Ah, this is Jessica Sanchez all over again. I didn’t like it. Nicki says she didn’t see the same, charming girl from rehearsals on stage tonight; no connection. Randy agrees that she didn’t seem to have any fun and it was not stellar. Mariah apologizes on Amber’s behalf for not learning the lyrics and encourages her to remain confident. Keith uses the word phenomenal twice, but he’s describing P!nk, not Amber.
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americanidol&MUSIC&pop culture&television25 Apr 2013 12:18 pm

So now we’re down to the final four and no one has been saved and the show may end a week early and there are rumors that I’m not the only one annoyed with Mariah and oh, what a season it has been. I think it’s safe to say we’re all happy that Lazaro isn’t singing…

Okay, I’m firing up the old AmericanIdol.com video playlist and we’re going to find out what’s what. My understanding is that the girls picked their first song and their second song (as voted on by fans like you – I didn’t vote) is a one-hit wonder. Let’s get to it.

Amber opens the night with Power of Love. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really don’t like Celine Dion songs. Woah! Amber’s hair exploded! She starts it off with no music and does a great job, then stumbles on the chorus. There is zero connection between her and the song, but she emits a powerful vocal that will surely overcome the bored body language. Keith says it was an amazingly perfect song choice and she was confident. Nicki says she doesn’t even feel like a contestant anymore, it’s like they’re at her show. Randy says she’s came in as a baby, now she’s a pro. Mariah says she opened up the notes like hashtag POW. (Meanwhile Kobe tries not to be like hashtag PAU!).
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